Daredevil Producer's Lengthy Tirade About Jenna Ortega's Wednesday Comments Sparked Both Arguments And Understanding

Netflix's Wednesday was undoubtedly one of the biggest TV shows of the past year, turning Jenna Ortega into as much of a household name as the Addams Family character she portrayed. (Probably inspired more dance parties than the O.G. version, though.) One drawback to such heights of fame involves a celebrity's words and thoughts getting endlessly picked apart, such as it went when Ortega spoke out about being "unprofessional" on the set and altering the scripts' dialogue on the fly. Those comments, which were critical of the work from creators/showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (as well as the writing staff), sparked a sporadic weeklong Twitter tirade from Spartacus creator and former Daredevil EP Steven S. DeKnight, though it appears angry debates have given way to a wave of calm understanding. 

What Jenna Ortega Said To Begin With

While popping by as a guest on Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Jenna Ortega talked about her attempts to keep Wednesday as authentic as possible to what she perceived the character to be. She talked openly about moments that she didn't think fit in with the goth Addams teen, with the love triangle being a go-to target, and went on to say that she reached a point where she began altering the dialogue against others' wishes. In her words:

I don’t think I’ve ever had to put my foot down on a set in the way that I had to on Wednesday because it’s so easy to fall into that category, especially with this type of show. . . . There were times on that set where I even became unprofessional, in a sense, where I just started changing lines. The script supervisor thought I was going with something, and then I would have to sit down with the writers, and they’d be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I would have to go through and explain why I couldn’t do certain things.

Ortega followed up on that interview with a trip to The Tonight Show, where she claimed that she and the writers talked about bringing in more horror elements for Season 2 and eschewing some of the romance. And while there are no doubt fans out there who agree with her general thoughts, the way she went about expressing them is what caused minor backlash-ery on Twitter. (Not to mention all the other times Ortega complained, somewhat good-naturedly, about working on the Netflix hit.)

How Stephen S. DeKnight Slammed Ortega's Comments

Not long after the interview went live, Steven DeKnight took to Twitter with his first critical view of how Ortega went about sharing her thoughts.

I love talking with actors about their lines/stories. But by the nature of the beast, they don’t have the full picture (in TV) of where the story is going and why some lines are needed for the whole to make sense. She’s young, so maybe she doesn’t know any better (but she should). She should also ask herself how she would feel if the showrunners gave an interview and talked about how difficult she was and refused to perform the material. This kind of statement is beyond entitled and toxic. I love her work, but life’s too short to deal with people like this in the business.

To be expected, that tweet thread led to a rolling deluge of comments that ran the entire gamut of human opinion. Some agreed whole-heartedly that Ortega came across as self-righteous and disagreeable, regardless of whether her thoughts had merit or not. Others weren't so concerned with professionalism so much as Wednesday being good, and praised whatever changes Ortega made that helped. And many others just took potshots at DeKnight's entertainment career without addressing any actual points, because Twitter.

It'd have been one thing if that was the extent of Steven S. DeKnight's commentary on the situation, but it was just the beginning. The writer/producer/director is known for being as vocal as one can be on social media, and he certainly didn't disappoint over the next week or so when engaging with others who both agreed and disagreed with his stance. Not that many took the time to understand what his actual stance was, and were content to just rattle off about their own thoughts. 

But across the lengthy stretch in which this topic has bounced around DeKnight's Twitter feed, he's repeatedly stressed what his actual issue is, while also being very appreciative and complimentary regarding Jenna Ortega in any other capacity beyond "publicly criticizing the show's writers." Here's a handful of his comments on that front:

  • It’s bad form to shit on your colleagues in public. Period. Again, I’d feel the same way if the showrunners did the same thing to her.
  • I think she's fantastic on screen. And I sincerely hope realizes why what she said has upset so many writers. We're in the trenches together. We need to publicly support each other.
  • [in response to racially motivated accusations] Respectfully, you’re way off here. I’m responding to an actor who made the very poor choice to publicly throw her showrunner/writers under a bus because she disagreed with their writing. Race and gender have zero to do with it. And I’ve been very clear that I love her work. But what she did was extremely bad form in this industry for anyone. Period.
  • Any of her criticisms may have been valid and she absolutely should have brought them up with the showrunners. That’s how the process works. But what you don’t do is badmouth your writers in an interview. Just like writers/showrunners should never publicly badmouth their actors. It works both ways.

To be sure, many people commenting on his thoughts were in complete agreement, and there were also those who debated him with the full understanding of where he was coming from, as opposed to baseless bashing. 

Is It Over Now? Maybe

It seems like Steven S. DeKnight finally wrapped things up regarding Wednesday and Jenna Ortega this week, with a few compassionate exchanges with some who actually did come around to grasping his point after first thinking he was attacking Ortega for no reason.

And perhaps finally, DeKnight also shared a plea for everyone to take a second to think about being nice, instead of instinctively oozing vitriol at every disagreement. 

Back to work. Try, as always, to be kind to each other even when we vehemently disagree. And yes, there are times that I need to heed my own advice. We are all emotional works-in-progress. Love to all of you.

Probably slightly less love to the many people who got blocked and muted during that week-long stretch, but still. 

Wednesday is available to stream for anyone with a Netflix subscription, while DeKnight's classic action/adventure Spartacus (and many other awesome shows) can be streamed with a Starz subscription. And stay tuned for more about the new Spartacus project that he's putting together.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.